14 days ago

She wears black. Always. As it turns out, death was not the end of her story. Final Chapter.

Rebecca Zwitser from Last Writes

Thanks for being here on our story journey...
Since we published we’ve had amazing feedback. Sometimes the stories from people who use Last Writes are heart-breaking, but they tell us the journal has given them hope, relief and clarity. It provides a safe space for them to articulate important … View more
Thanks for being here on our story journey...
Since we published we’ve had amazing feedback. Sometimes the stories from people who use Last Writes are heart-breaking, but they tell us the journal has given them hope, relief and clarity. It provides a safe space for them to articulate important things and, hopefully, help their family when they die.
I know that, for Penny, living without her ‘larger than life’ mum has been tough.
Penny says, I’ve always said that mum had a very big heart. According to the Coroner – far too big. I am sorry that mum’s heart killed her but, as the recipient of that heart’s love, I feel unbelievably lucky, blessed and cherished.
Penny’s mum’s death wasn’t the end of her story. She lives through every person that authors their Last Writes journal. We reckon her big heart is full of joy.
Meanwhile, I am dressed in scarlet and she is wearing black. Always.

21 days ago

She wears black. Always. As it turns out, death was not the end of her story. Chapter six.

Rebecca Zwitser from Last Writes

There were differently inked pens so it was clearly something her mum had been picking up and putting down for months if not years. Notes for her grandkids and friends, things that she wanted to tell them and phone numbers of people to be contacted. I called one night. Just to check in. One night, … View moreThere were differently inked pens so it was clearly something her mum had been picking up and putting down for months if not years. Notes for her grandkids and friends, things that she wanted to tell them and phone numbers of people to be contacted. I called one night. Just to check in. One night, she called to have a cry with me. “I have mum’s book and I can’t put it down” she said.
I was unusually quiet and she asked what I was doing. She seemed annoyed at my silence so I gathered my pink robe around me and put down my pencil for a minute. I said “I’m drawing ideas for a book like your mum’s. This should be everyone’s story and everyone’s gift. It’s a template for death and a whole bunch of issues that people can’t or won’t talk about.” “It is useful” she sniffed and I could almost see her turning over the book in her hands before tucking it into the pocket of her black dressing gown. (I have not seen it but I am pretty sure it’s black). So together we created a journal called Last Writes. It has prompts and space for people to write their wishes, dreams, triumphs, regrets, practicalities, and, well, just silly stuff too.

28 days ago

She wears black. Always. As it turns out, death was not the end of her story. Chapter five.

Rebecca Zwitser from Last Writes

Penny said “Mum had told me about a little notebook she called her ‘death book’ that she wrote in. It was a book imbued with spirit... some of that was probably brandy.”
“You know, I’ve never been able to grasp that in a time of deep grief people have to organise and decide so many … View more
Penny said “Mum had told me about a little notebook she called her ‘death book’ that she wrote in. It was a book imbued with spirit... some of that was probably brandy.”
“You know, I’ve never been able to grasp that in a time of deep grief people have to organise and decide so many things - when they can barely get out of bed! I am grateful to mum for taking that off my plate.”
In her book Penny’s mum wrote about what she would like for her funeral including flowers, hymns and who (and how long) should speak. “So, all I needed to do was rip out the first three pages. Like tearing out a small piece of someone’s heart - but in a good way.”
I was there and I was brightly dressed. As was Penny’s mother. The funeral was beautiful. Penny whispered to me afterwards “I had the little book in my pocket, and while I was saying my last goodbye to mum, the one thing I didn’t agonise over was hoping I had made the right choices. I knew it was what mum wanted and she would have loved it.”
As her friends gathered around for support, Penny got braver and read more of the little ‘death’ book.

35 days ago

She wears black. Always. As it turns out, death was not the end of her story. Chapter four.

Rebecca Zwitser from Last Writes

I wore a pink dress to go and see Penny. She was wearing black. “Look at me” she said. “I don’t even need to change.” I watched her carefully. Even though people are staunch, there are layers and layers and layers that few people ever like to unpack. Particularly her. And, me actually. I … View moreI wore a pink dress to go and see Penny. She was wearing black. “Look at me” she said. “I don’t even need to change.” I watched her carefully. Even though people are staunch, there are layers and layers and layers that few people ever like to unpack. Particularly her. And, me actually. I gave her a hug. And we cried a bit.
“I cannot believe Mum is dead.” I looked at my bright blue shoes. Penny continued. “It is Saturday. That’s fun family day. I packed a picnic for my husband and daughters for a day of sailing – I was looking forward to some alone time while they were away. The phone rang and someone asked if I had someone with me. Why would they do that? Of course I know. They only do it when someone is dead.”
Death is so final. My reaction was shock with a lingering side-order of confusion. I knew her mum. I knew her importance to Penny and the family. I knew her story. What can I do?

42 days ago

She wears black. Always. As it turns out, death was not the end of her story. Chapter three.

Rebecca Zwitser from Last Writes

“Mum died today.” Now, I knew this woman (the dead one) and, for all of her idiosyncrasies, she wasn’t really the dying kind. “What? How?”. “Dunno yet, but she’s been shipped off to the coroner so I guess we’ll find out.”
There are people to call. She tries holding back tears, … View more
“Mum died today.” Now, I knew this woman (the dead one) and, for all of her idiosyncrasies, she wasn’t really the dying kind. “What? How?”. “Dunno yet, but she’s been shipped off to the coroner so I guess we’ll find out.”
There are people to call. She tries holding back tears, although the odd one slips out. She calls her brother. It is the first day of duck shooting and he has his phone off. So, the call goes out - “I need him.” “Mum died”. He was on the phone ten minutes later. “What happened? Are you sure she’s dead?” to which Penny replies “Well, I’ve been here for twenty minutes and she hasn’t offered me a drink yet.” This elicits a laugh. Warmth. They both feel stronger. For now...

49 days ago

She wears black. Always. As it turns out, death was not the end of her story. Chapter two.

Rebecca Zwitser from Last Writes

This is a shared story. When did it start? I am flicking through pages of a journal and they are now so familiar it seems like it’s a long time ago that I met them. It’s my story because I designed the journal. It is full of vibrant colour. But it’s sort of Penny’s narrative.
I think wine … View more
This is a shared story. When did it start? I am flicking through pages of a journal and they are now so familiar it seems like it’s a long time ago that I met them. It’s my story because I designed the journal. It is full of vibrant colour. But it’s sort of Penny’s narrative.
I think wine was involved when Penny called me. She wasn’t actually making all that much sense when we started quite an important conversation.

56 days ago

She wears black. Always. As it turns out, death was not the end of her story.

Rebecca Zwitser from Last Writes

Welcome to the first installment of our story series about the Last Writes story (follow along each Friday for new episodes).
“Good Lord, you’re wearing orange and you have a lime green handbag” Penny said. I dress for whimsical delight and love pieces of sunshine found in op-shops. She does… View more
Welcome to the first installment of our story series about the Last Writes story (follow along each Friday for new episodes).
“Good Lord, you’re wearing orange and you have a lime green handbag” Penny said. I dress for whimsical delight and love pieces of sunshine found in op-shops. She does not. It’s standard banter with us.
I looked at her, always wearing black, and what I didn’t say was “You’re dressed for a funeral. Always.” But I thought it.
And that turned out to be strangely prescient. But let’s just back up a bit.

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